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How can I help my dog’s open wound heal quicker? He was attacked by another dog, has large wounds on shoulder blade which are slow to close due to the movement. He has a dressing on.

He is raw fed, was thinking of Vitamin E or Manuka Honey (internal or externally?)

~ Thank you, Lesley

Dr. Jane DoyleHello Lesley,

You do not mention how long it has been since the injury, nor how large the wound is. Regardless, there are some basics that will help wounds to heal faster.

Hydrotherapy can work wonders. Run cool water on the wound for 5-10 minutes once or twice a day. The running water does the same thing as discharges that the body makes, but much faster. It washes away any debris that is forming as a result of the body’s attempt to heal, such as dead cells and pus. It also seems to stimulate growth of the healing tissue. You can use the faucet or a hose. If the dog is small enough to use the kitchen sink, the little spray hose that many kitchens have works very nicely.

After hydrotherapy, dry the wound and apply topical medicine to promote healing. Calendula officinalis in gel, oil or ointment form promotes healing and is antimicrobial. For gaping wounds with space that needs to be filled in, or if there is exposed bone, add some Symphytum, again in gel, oil or ointment form, and you will see amazing growth of granulation tissue (the highly vascularized pink tissue that fills in wounds before the skin closes) filling the gap. If you only have the dry Symphytum herb (aka Comfrey), you can mix it with the Calendula oil, gel or ointment. Only add the herb if you are able to successfully accomplish hydrotherapy, as those bits of herb will need to come out with each bandage change.

Wounds with large areas of skin that need to regrow should have a wet bandage. Keeping the wound moist allows the skin to grow over the wound. In that case, use a water-based Calendula gel rather than oil or ointment. Keeping the bandage wet can be tricky, and it helps to cover it with plastic of some sort to keep the bandage from drying out.

You might be wondering where you can get the Calendula and Symphytum products. Most natural foods stores carry gels, oils and/or ointments of Calendula. I’m not so sure about Symphytum. My supplier stopped making them some years back so I started making my own calendulated oil and symphytum oil, which are oil infusions. It’s very easy.

  • Get a jar and fill it twice: once with the DRY herb*
  • Fill it again, this time with the oil*
  • Leave it in a cool dark place for six weeks
  • Strain, and you have your oil infusion

* Ingredient notes:
For Calendula use the flowers. For Symphytum use the leaves. (You can grow your own or your natural foods store can likely order them for you.)

I prefer to use mineral oil because contaminants such as mold and bacteria don’t grow well it it. Cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil is nice and has an anti-inflammatory effect but it does not keep long, as mold and bacteria like to grow in olive oil. Also, inflammation is a normal part of healing so it seems counterintuitive to use olive oil in this situation.

All the best,
Dr Jane